Growing Individuality

Whether I am alone or with others, my individuality either develops or does not, matures or remains immature, and depends entirely upon my acceptance of what I am, what I need to become, and my willingness to forego what I want to be if that runs contrary to who I am by God’s design.

Todd Beal

But what am I, what do I need to become, and how am I to know my design if I don’t know God? You cannot know him until you are willing to let him know you, first.

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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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32 Responses to Growing Individuality

  1. Lance Ponder says:

    “You cannot know him until you are willing to let him know you, first.”

    … wow…. I could really ramble a while about this, depending on how I would choose to receive these words, but I think I would prefer to accept them as I believe they were intended. And to that end I concur completely and really have nothing to add. ~_*

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Lance thanks. This post means a lot to me on a personal level. The statement itself was a long time coming. I began my independent study of personality back in 1996, and now fifteen years later, I consider this the core statement for personal development. As usual, when I get stuck on developing a statement/concept, I ask God to give me the words to say/write, and then I get quiet, and wait. What an incredibly rewarding one on one time with God.

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  2. Todd,

    Always interesting! You are always thinking. 🙂 Btw, I am just guessing but I sense you are not a Calvinist type? Not probing just wondered. You know I tend toward so-called Calvinism, though I’m not savagely so. We must always allow God’s biblical tensions!

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Fr. Robert,

      First of all, thanks for your encouraging words. Secondly, I’m neither Calvinist nor modern day Arminian. Now that I have spent some time distinguishing between Calvinism and Arminianism, I believe they are both (as they stand in modern times) two artificial sides of something indivisible, and greater. There are certain aspects of modern-day Arminianism that I readily see in scripture; other aspects I do not. Likewise, there are certain aspects of five-point Calvinism that I readily see in scripture; other aspects I do not.

      I reached a point in my personal study where I suddenly said to myself, neither Calvinism nor Arminianism is entirely accurate, but both together mostly approximate the underlying truth. That truth is what I aim to find. The closest I have come so far in discovering that truth is in the book, “Grace, Faith, Free Will”, by Robert E. Picirilli. Picirilli coined the phrase, Reformation Arminianism, to distinguish Jacobus Arminius’ original theological conclusions from that of modern day Arminianism. I don’t know if you are familiar with this book, but you will find an excellent extended preview here in Google books.

      That said, hopefully you will see this post as bent neither toward specifically Calvinism nor toward Arminianism, but simply, and wholly, rooted in scripture. Whether one wholly subscribes to Calvinism or Arminianism (or to nuances of either/both), if one is closed to God knowing him/her, he/she will not, cannot, know God. And consequently, without knowing God’s personal provision of truth, he/she cannot know what it means to be an individual, let alone develop his/her individuality. Only God, our creator, has the means to reveal to us our individual design, and his plan for that design.

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  3. Lance Ponder says:

    I too have problems with both of the over simplified sets of points of Calvin and Arminius. The debate creates an artificial division among us that is destructive and the division itself is unbiblical. imho.

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    • Lance,

      I would myself not call this issue “artificial” in the least, in fact a pastor-teacher that has not crossed the Rubicon of divine election, is really not ready to teach the Saints nor the Word! My thoughts on the subject somewhat. 🙂

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Lance,

      | The debate creates an artificial division among us that is destructive and the division itself is unbiblical. |

      I agree. In the same breath however, I find there are true Christians on all sides of the debate. By default, this is not one of those salvation-denying topics where one’s eternal life depends on which side (or combination thereof) one chooses. Once upon a time I saw these types of major issues in terms of black and white. To me, anything that differed from what I was taught, smacked of heresy, apostasy, “backsliding”, etc. I realize now that life isn’t always that simple. At this point, I would not question someone’s relationship with God based solely on his/her views on Arminianism versus Calvinism. Today, I always ask myself two questions: does a particular person truly exhibit the fruits of the spirit; and is his or her heart sincere. Aside from this, Humans are human and we will always find something upon which to disagree. Unfortunately, this is one of those major areas of disagreement within the Church.

      The base argument that rattles around in my brain is that neither Calvinism nor Arminianism proper existed in the Apostles’ day. The Holy Spirit was their teacher, not some incomplete theology. In other words, the apostles (the New Testament authors) had it right; they wrote indivisible truth as inspired by the Holy Spirit. But, in our attempt to understand that New Testament truth today, we artificially divide it according to human understanding, which in turn divides the Church. For the fact that both Calvinism and Arminianism contradict each other in numerous fundamental ways, tells me that one or the other, or both, at any given point in the argument, is ultimately incorrect. Truth contains no contradiction, and that tells me we have yet to find the indivisible truth underlying these two artificial theological divisions.

      However, the problem we face today is much more complex even than the initial historic debate. We increasingly create new versions of the two sides, including a cross-hybrid of picking and choosing, and combining, of the two sides. We realize that neither side represents the whole underlying truth, but instead of separately searching for that truth in scripture, we attempt to hand-construct it from the existing contradictory theological elements. This attempt is futile because if something is not entirely true, it is not wholly rooted in truth; hence, it cannot give us the whole truth, but at best, pieces of truth. Only Biblical scripture is entirely true; and with the Holy Spirit as our teacher, that is where we must place our trust, not human understanding. It is human nature to mold truth to us instead of submitting ourselves to truth, thus it is also human nature to use personal bias and predispositions for constructing theologies. Instead of desiring to know truth as is, unfiltered, we try to put our own brand on truth for fear of losing perceived ownership over truth. But there is a consequence.

      The more determined we are to own our version of truth, the further we slide away from the very truth that has no versions, just truth.

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      • Todd,

        Of course we must hold “our version” of the faith in great humility, but we also should stand for “our” convictions, biblical and theological! Nothing wrong with that! How can we convince others, if we ourselves appear so spiritually asleep! Which is simply the “centre” of most Christianity today! We really don’t need more “theology”, but biblical & theological lives lived in the presence of Christ! WE, the real CHURCH, are simply “dead” to this fallen world and culture! Let us live lives that speak such! Amen! This is the heart of the Pauline Gospel!

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        • Todd Beal says:

          | We really don’t need more “theology”, but biblical & theological lives lived in the presence of Christ! WE, the real CHURCH, are simply “dead” to this fallen world and culture! Let us live lives that speak such! Amen! This is the heart of the Pauline Gospel! |

          Well said, Fr. Robert.

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      • Todd Beal says:

        Fr. Robert,

        | Of course we must hold “our version” of the faith in great humility, but we also should stand for “our” convictions, biblical and theological! Nothing wrong with that! How can we convince others, if we ourselves appear so spiritually asleep! Which is simply the “centre” of most Christianity today! |

        I suppose my particular use of “our version” might appear as ambiguous. Hopefully the following will clear this up.

        When I warn against owning our version of truth, I am warning against errantly insisting truth match our thinking. We must instead allow truth to change our thinking so that, in turn, our thoughts facilitate truth unfiltered. Truth is the version; there are no other versions, only contradictions. Of course no Christian in his right mind would argue with my assertion here. Yet, put a hundred true and sincere Christians together in the same room, and one will quickly see just how little they agree on major doctrine – and convictions. Each will argue himself blue in the face that the Holy Spirit prompted his theological views and convictions. Each will also internally, or publicly, accuse the others of not being led by the Holy Spirit. And yet all will say, “These are my convictions, as led by the Holy Spirit, and I will not let them go”, followed by, “Here is the scripture to prove my belief correct”. But, if we track the spiritual progress of any Christian, we will find that eventually, most will give up prior “convictions” and theological views, claiming that the Holy Spirit gave them a new understanding or enlightenment.

        Well, I have news for these people. The Holy Spirit does not contradict himself – he is Truth. He does not lead us to believe one thing in our early twenties, and then something else in our thirties, and then something entirely different in our forties and fifties. When the Holy Spirit gives truth, that truth stands forever, regardless of one’s personal level of maturity, regardless of one’s spiritual progress. Therefore, I have a very big problem with someone who claims a Spirit-led conviction or theological viewpoint, and yet later relents to adopt something else, equally claiming the new change as Spirit-led. My question to all Christians: What makes you so sure the Holy Spirit gave you your beliefs and “convictions”? By what criteria do you say, “This is from the Holy Spirit”, versus, “This is my own understanding apart from the Holy Spirit”? Obviously, most of us don’t have a clue how to answer this question, and would fail miserably if put to the test by a brand new Christian. We would likely give some lame answer similar to, “You’ll know the Holy Spirit when he speaks to you.” So once again, I ask, if we ourselves can’t discern between the teaching of the Holy Spirit and our own understanding, how can we expect a new Christian to automatically discern this for himself?

        Now please don’t misunderstand what I am saying Fr. Robert. I am not disagreeing with your assertion that we must “stand for “our” convictions, biblical and theological”. If the Holy Spirit leads us into a conviction (regarding anything), we must stay true to that conviction to the day we die. If we don’t, that means one of two things: the Holy Spirit gave us that conviction and we instead choose to stray from his truth, or he never gave it to us in the first place, which means we are unable to discern between the Holy Spirit and our own understanding. My point is that most times, most well-meaning Christians confuse their own understanding with that given by God. This is what I mean when I say, our version.

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        • Todd,

          I have been going down this biblical and theological road since I was a young Teen, and I have surely had my ups and downs, and made not a few mistakes, but I do feel that God In Christ has always had me tethered to Himself. Since I was even a Roman Catholic I have always felt both God’s providence and mentally believed His sovereignty. And of course my life was tested many times in personal combat, and again God was always there, and certainly protective. So I have a tendency to see the doctrine of God, at least somewhat, from this experience.

          I would agree however, that far too many Christians simply “play” a good game of theology. But one must live and walk in that “theological” place, to see if it is really “Christian”, and finally Biblical!

          “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is again.” (Phil. 1:21) Paul had this confidence in Christ that he would be upheld by the grace of God in all his trials. And this comes from the presence and power of God Himself ‘In Christ’, this was his confidence and joy through his God-given faith!

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          • Todd Beal says:

            | I would agree however, that far too many Christians simply “play” a good game of theology. But one must live and walk in that “theological” place, to see if it is really “Christian”, and finally Biblical! |

            Well said Fr. Robert, I could not agree more. The sad thing though, is that the majority of all Christians I have ever met deceive themselves into thinking they are living and walking in that “theological” place, when in fact, they are walking by their own understanding and call that faith – would that they know the difference.

            I believe it is crucial to recognize the difference between the Holy Spirit’s prompting and one’s own understanding. Without this, we always get led astray.

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            • Todd,

              That is a constant spiritual battle! We are beings really of “spirit and soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23). And we must see them all Three…man is a trinity, note it seems that the human soul and spirit are not identical (Heb. 4:12). And sadly, Christian “theology” is too often done just with the intellect alone, we are ‘spirit-soul-body’, but note first “spirit-beings”. I think our soul relects our personality, but it is also a fallen, sinful personia. But ‘In Christ’ we have been fully regenerated, the spirit and soul.. but not yet in perfection. The body will die, if the Lord does not come before such. We live in that tension of the ‘already but not yet’. Note, Romans 8: 8-17, etc. The Christian should live from Romans 8, but note again Rom. 8:10-11, the “body” can only be “reckoned” dead. It is that place of faith and a certain regeneration. And here again is part of that spiritual battle! This subject is sadly neglected in the Christian Church. But not in St. Paul. Paul has a full Christian Anthropology!

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          • Todd Beal says:

            Fr. Robert,

            Your comment, the whole thing, is the most profound thing I have heard you say, and is the most profound statement I have ever heard concerning our trinity nature as it relates to our sin nature, and also how that affects our spiritual discernment. Fr. Robert, I cannot thank you enough for your comment. Finally, I feel like I was fed. I have been trying for years to understand the fullness of putting the sinful flesh to death by living according to the Spirit: not that the concept itself is hard to understand, but how its ramifications play out in real life.

            I now understand! If we grow complacent or refuse to spiritually rule over our sinful nature, we inevitably try to use that fallen nature (our own understanding) for Spiritual discernment instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and teach our spiritual self, which then, the spiritual self disciplines and teaches our natural mind (including our whole natural self).

            | We are beings really of “spirit and soul and body” (1 Thess. 5:23). And we must see them all Three…man is a trinity, note it seems that the human soul and spirit are not identical (Heb. 4:12). |

            Absolutely. God is trinity, and we are made in God’s image. People usually get a blank look on their face when I try to explain this reality.

            | And sadly, Christian “theology” is too often done just with the intellect alone, we are ‘spirit-soul-body’, but note first “spirit-beings” |

            Right on! This is the error I have been speaking of. Ironically, when we refuse to let the Holy Spirit guide our mind, our fallen nature guides it instead, rendering the mind subservient to what it needs to rule, thus weakening the very intellect in which we pride our self. Therefore, to forego spiritual discernment in favor of the intellect, really disallows the intellect to operate authentically. Our sinful nature weakens the substance of intellect, but Spiritual Truth, as given by the Holy Spirit, empowers not only the intellect but also our whole self.

            I could go on and on with this new understanding. What a privilege to finally grasp the ramifications of this concept. Thanks again, Fr. Robert.

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            • Todd,

              The Lord has given you this! I was just a wee bit of a vessel. You have gotten good hold here! Note, I am still learning, and changing too.. Man appears to be trichotomy, but the two words can be interchangebly also. Perhaps Paul is simply making emphasis here in 1 Thess, 5: 23? I have not come to a final position, tri or bipartite? But man is a spirit-soul and body! In this life, the body is not yet redeemed, until the Rapture and the Resurrection.

              Blessings.. 🙂

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  4. I know I said man was a “trinity” whole, and he just may be? But, as I also noted the Greek and Hebrew words are used interchangebly for both…soul & spirit. I like the translation “spirit-soul” actually. Which accords man as kinda a trinity. We must also let the context help us also, in each scripture instance.

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    • Todd,

      I am not taking back what I said and wrote, I am just not dogmatic here. I hope this still helps? Note the Greek word psuche. As Vine notes, “Apparently, then, the relationships may be thus summed up, ‘Soma, body, and pneuma, spirit, may be separated, pneuma and psuche, soul, can only be distinguished.” In reality, I don’t think this changes much, as to my “spirit-soul” position! My latter position is somewhat affected by Bullinger’s work.

      Btw, I still use and value Lexicons and Greek-English Dictionary’s…though I can read Greek and Hebrew, the latter rather poorly. I just don’t trust myself alone on Greek and Hebrew words.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Fr. Robert,

      I unwaveringly subscribe to the trinity view. In 1 Thessalonians 5:23 [NASB], Paul would not say, “…and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete…”, separately using all three terms in the same breath, if he understood them as interchangeable. I have seen in other scriptures, specifically in the Old Testament, where, at face value, it does appear that spirit and soul are used interchangeably, but I don’t believe the authors meant one to be the other. Both the soul and spirit exist in the spiritual dimension/realm, but that does not mean both are interchangeable. The spirit is the essence of who we are; the soul is the weighty substance of who we are, but neither spirit nor soul is physical.

      Consider Matthew 16:26 [NASB]: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” It would make no sense to insert “spirit” in place of “soul”: For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his spirit? Or what will a man give in exchange for his spirit?

      Also, we would not say, “That woman’s husband crushed her soul.” That would leave us scratching our heads. We would instead say, “That woman’s husband crushed her spirit”. Likewise, we would not say, “I felt that in the depths of my spirit.” We would instead say, “I felt that in the depths of my soul.” We would also not say, “My soul soared to the heights of heaven.” Rather, we would say, “My spirit soared to the heights of heaven.”

      Both spirit and soul belongs to the spiritual dimension, but indeed both are each their own yet unified in one being, us, the individual whom God created in his image. It just so happens that we also have a physical body which houses our spirit and soul within the physical realm.

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  5. Todd – I’ve been on vacation for the past couple of weeks and have missed your posts. This one is a great thought and I’ve enjoyed your conversation with some of the regulars here. Truly personal development for believers is dependent on obtaining a knowledge not only of what God’s plan is for them, but of who God himself is. As one who believes that we are joint-heirs with Christ, I think we can do no better than to closely study and emulate the Master, as well as make corrections and repentance where our behavior is not in line with his (a constant process!). The commandments and scriptural instructions we have are designed to lead us to that greater knowledge and make it easier to avoid the traps and pitfalls that pull us toward a soul-destroying worldliness and away from a loving Father who wants to give us all that he has.

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    • Todd Beal says:

      Michael,

      First, I want to welcome you back. I just said today that you were probably on vacation, as I haven’t seen you around in a while. It truly is good to read your input once again.

      | Truly personal development for believers is dependent on obtaining a knowledge not only of what God’s plan is for them, but of who God himself is. As one who believes that we are joint-heirs with Christ, I think we can do no better than to closely study and emulate the Master, as well as make corrections and repentance where our behavior is not in line with his (a constant process!). |

      Your whole comment is spot on and could separately serve as its own post, but this paragraph in particular grabbed my attention. It reminds me of a prior statement I made in my reply to Robyn on the post Creed of Personal Integrity; specifically the last paragraph: “Sure, we can individually and collectively strive toward a life-enhancing set of ethical ideals or principles, but without truth in our heart, Jesus Christ, those ethics are merely cosmetic – a fragile attempt to protect each other from what really resides inside, our destructive nature, a blatant contradiction against truth. Without Jesus Christ, without truth, there is no integrity, only attempts at achieving it.” As you said, Michael, personal development truly involves knowing God. And of course, without God, personal development is merely superficial, regardless of how deep it goes. If Christ is not the empowerment and impetus for personal change, then that change can only cosmetically address the symptoms of a deeper and more fundamental issue, our spiritual nature. But, when we spiritually maintain an open heart and mind, the Holy Spirit guides us into his truth. He shows us what to change and how to change it (permanently), not by our power but through his alone.

      Thanks again for your comment, and welcome back.

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  6. Michael,

    I think I asked you this before, forgive me if I have repeated it here? But since you are a Mormon, do you believe in a tritheism, a belief in three distinct God’s? And if so how can Christ be thus Jehovah God? As in both John’s Gospel, and the Letter of 1st. John (also 2 John 3 &9), and too the Book of Revelation.

    It troubles me that the Mormon’s are the only so-called Christians that teach this separate plurality of Gods/gods in the Godhead. Classic Christianity of course teaches that the Godhead and Trinity of God are Three Persons in One God, and One God in Three Persons.

    I think this question applies since we are talking about the trinity or triune nature of man.

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  7. Fr. Robert,

    That is a fair question and I appreciate your curiosity and concern. It seems like we did discuss this once before, but it’s been long enough that I can’t remember the thread of the conversation.

    The Latter-Day Saint view of God is indeed more tritheist than trinitarian, if looked at by strict definitions. Our first Article of Faith states, “We believe in God, the eternal Father, and in his son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” God the father, who we sometimes refer to as Elohim, is the God of the universe, has always been so, and always will be. His son, Jesus Christ, we believe to be the Jehovah of the Old Testament and the Savior of the world (John 8:58). These are two separate and distinct beings, while “one” in purpose and spirit. When Jesus prayed to his father, it makes sense to me that he was praying to an entity other than himself, and when he prays in John 17:21 “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you”, I do not believe he was implying that we [the believers] would become one IN SUBSTANCE with him and his father, or that we would all become one entity, except in spirit and purpose. When Stephen saw Jesus “standing at the right hand of God,” I take the writer of Acts literally that the Martyr saw two separate and distinct beings.

    It’s true that this view differs from the bulk of mainstream Christianity, but from its beginnings and by its very restorational nature Mormonism will always be at some level of conflict with that world. I don’t think it’s fair to disqualify a Mormon from being Christian based on this issue. God is still God, and Jesus is still Jesus, and neither would do anything the other would not because they are indeed “one” in the ways that matter to us. Whether they be physically divisible or not, their motives, works and purposes are one and the same and they can be worshiped in spirit and in truth.

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    • Michael,

      Thanks to reply to this doctrinal question. I have several Mormon friends, but that do not know their Church’s position here. I hope this helps for them. Since I am myself part of one of the historical Churches since the Reformation (Anglican), I am of course a classic Trinitarian to some degree, though I am myself an Anglican who follows some of the E.O., …the Eastern Orthodox on this grand subject (both the Incarnation and the Trinity of God). I would theologically not follow the Filioque, etc.

      One of the grave problems of the doctrine of the Godhead for us classic Trinitarian’s, with the Mormon doctrine of God, is the idea that both the Father and the Son have physical bodies. This is just well beyond the Biblical revelation of God, especially in the NT. The NT is very clear to show that it was only the Son of God who enfleshed Himself in a human body! (Phil. 2:5-11) What we call in Christian theology as the Incarnation. So to change this, and make a very different NT doctrine and expression here, certainly becomes very suspect to say the least! (Note, 1 John 4:2-3 ; 6..looking back to 1 John 1:1-3, and also to 2 John 3 ; 7-9). Note, too John 4:23-24, and on to John 14:6-11. And then also in Col. 2:15, “Who (Christ) is the image of the invisible God..”. As too, 1 Tim. 1:17, with Hebrew’s chapter 1, note verse 3, that the Son.. “Who being, the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, etc.” Indeed Jesus Christ alone is the only “image” and manifest “Person” in the Godhead, seen! (1 Tim. 3:16)

      This is quick, and covers some ground, but I hope the Scripture itself will show the biblcal truth here. Note, the whole idea and subject of the Mormon Church being “restorational” in nature and character needs to be examined here also!

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  8. Fr. Robert,

    That is the challenge with any doctrinal discussion I get into with those of other Christian persuasions — I risk debate and contention that could dissipate the spirit of Todd’s blog, and I don’t want to do that, so I appreciate the respectful way you phrase things. I only want to offer responses in the spirit Peter describes in 1 Pet 3:15, “…to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of that hope that is in you with meekness and fear.”

    The fact is, we differ in our interpretations of those Bible verses – I read them all and find nothing in them that changes my understanding of godhood and godhead. As for the Colossians and Timothy references to the “invisible” god, I have to assume that “invisible” means something other than “not able to be seen by anyone ever”, because Moses, Isaiah, and Stephen are clearly recorded as having seen God, and Paul would have known this as well as anyone. It’s the same as when John says “no man hath seen God at any time” in Chapter 1 of his Gospel, but then later in Chapter 6 says “..not that any man hath seen the father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the father.” Which is correct? I choose to believe that while MOST everyone has never and will never see God the Father while in mortality, some prophets, apostles and martyrs most certainly have had that privilege, and the being they saw was real and distinct from Jesus and the Holy Ghost. As for John’s assertion that “God is a spirit”, well, so am I a spirit, so are you, and so is Jesus. Being a spirit doesn’t preclude any of us from also having a tangible body. I can “worship in spirit and in truth” from the perspective of my physical body just as God can be worshiped from the perspective of his own.

    I want to make it clear that I most emphatically believe that Jesus did come in the flesh, and that he was truly mortal, in that he had the ability to give up his life and die. However, upon resurrection his physical condition was utterly changed — he became glorified and immortal like his father (John 5:19). Why would Jesus want to become anything other than what his father was? And if we are truly “joint-heirs with Christ”, and have a PHYSICAL destiny as resurrected beings, can’t this corporeality be considered part of the inheritance?

    I’ll admit that this must all sound terrifically heretical to you, but I have studied it out, and I find nothing in the Bible that directly contradicts this view (or, if it appears to, is not itself contradicted by yet another passage). I’m not saying that God is anthropomorphic (man creating God in his image), but that man is theomorphic (created in God’s image, which can’t be more clearly stated in Genesis). As Adam begat Seth, “a son in his own image and likeness,” so are we all in God’s image, which to me means exactly what it says: We LOOK like him.

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  9. Michael,

    I have my own copy, bound in leather with index 🙂 , of the the big four: Holy Bible (KJV), Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl Of Great Price. So I have been around a bit with Mormon doctrine and teaching! I try to be a student of “Christian” history in all its forms.

    You stated nicely your Mormon belief here. But, in the end, we simply but profoundly must be biblical. And only here is the real ‘Spirit & Truth’! Of course I would reject the idea that the “Father” has become “incarnate”. This would itself run squarely against the whole of the biblical revelation itself, of the Salvation History of God, Gen. 3:15! I believe a careful study of John 14:6-17, etc. would show that Christ alone is the only “visible” manifestation and essence and place of God. Note in John 1:14, HE is said to have “tabernacled” among us! So Christ alone is the Shekinah, the visible glory of God’s presence and now place where He/God can be seen! Literally, “Now the Word became flesh and took of residence (tabernacled) among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only (the unique one), full of grace and truth, who came from the Father.” (NET Bible, translation and note) Simply, GOD became Man! And as you quote, “No one has seen God at any time, the only begotten One, himself God, who is in the bosom – an idom for closeness or nearness – in the very heart and depth of the Father, He has made God known”. Here we have the most profound mutual intimacy of the Father & Son in the Godhead! And as we shall see in John chapters 14 thru 16, it is the bond-love and “Person” of the Spirit, that breathes between them! Here is the precious doctrine of the Trinity of God! And btw, I don’t see a verse at all that speaks of the “Father’s” Incarnation, this alone is the eternal image of the SON! What theology calls the ‘eternal generation’ of the Son from the Father.

    Finally, I don’t write this to spoil anything as to the nature of Christian brotherhood, but seeking only the “glory” and beauty of the triune nature of God, revealed in the “face” of Christ! (2 Cor. 4:6)

    PS..Michael, note too I believe that “Christ Jesus” has always been the “image” of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), so that when we see the theophany, or visible appearance of God in the OT, we are also seeing Christ! (See, Gen. 18:1-8)

    Best..

    Fr. Robert

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  10. Fr. Robert,

    I certainly respect and admire both your love for the scriptures and your desire to defend them and express truth. I’ve seen this topic of God’s corporeality and the nature of the trinity discussed in endless (and sometimes heated) strings on various forums, and no one ever “wins”, or converts the other to his way of thinking or interpreting the scriptures. I can’t “prove” God the father has a body any more than you can prove he doesn’t through the Bible, simply because none of the Bible writers (in my view) come out and declare it indisputably one way or the other. You might cite extra-biblical sources in the form of post-apostolic councils and creeds from Church fathers who struggled to reconcile the competing philosophies of a melting-pot church, and I might cite extra-biblical sources from men who lived in the past two centuries whom I accept as prophets, seers, and revelators. Since neither of us can accept the other’s “secondary sources”, and we don’t agree on our interpretation of the “primary source”, the best we can hope for is to be educated on one another’s opinions, which I can appreciate. I might think your opinion on this is incorrect, but it wouldn’t be right for me to judge you or consider you less a Christian for believing so.

    Ultimately my Christian beliefs have been (I believe) augmented and enhanced by what happened when a fourteen-year-old boy went into a grove of trees in upstate New York in the spring of 1820 to pray for an answer, what he saw and heard at that time, and what transpired over the next 24 years before his martyrdom in Carthage, Illinois, in June 1844. I don’t expect anyone who doesn’t accept the validity of those events to accept any of the doctrine that flowed from them. In my view, these doctrines only expand and clarify the Bible’s revelations, as they are from the same Source. I realize that these points can be endlessly argued, and that dialog has been going on for 180 years now. I’m grateful to be a part of that dialog, and to live in a country where we have the freedom to discuss such things!

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    • Michael,

      Thanks for the kind words, perhaps in today’s world it appears to be hard to find faithful and biblical Anglicans, but there are thankfully some at least. I am nothing here, the Anglican Communion and history is very full Biblically and Evangelically!

      In looking back at the Reformation, and then on to the Evangelical Revival we have a very historic Church, which is both “catholic” and “reformed” (reformational). The list of faithful men and women is profound really, but one must simply look! And it is here that we find God’s Salvation History, the Church has always had its faithful people, both Jew & Gentile! (Romans 9-11) And one day, Christ will again have His faithful Jewish remnant, but it will come at a great cost to the people of modern and national Israel! (Zech. 13:8-9) Btw, we should note, that between Zech.13: 7 and verses 8 & 9, there is a parenthesis of the present age or dispensation, that was alone given to the Apostle Paul, in Ephesians, note chapter 3, etc. Here is the great secret that was revealed to Paul. In Romans is set forth all the truth concerning the standing of the sinner in Christ, as having died and risen with Him. Now in Ephesians we are taken a futher stage and taught that the sinner not only died and rose again in Christ, but that he is now in God’s sight and purpose “seated” with Christ in the heavenlies. Note Romans ends with a reference to the revelation of the Mystery (Rom. 16:25). And then the Letter to the Ephesians takes up that subject and unfolds it to us. I take the time to share and teach this, as it helps to express to us the great Mystery of “this” dispensation, which is “heavenly” truth: In it is revealed the “great-secret” of this Dispensation of Grace, viz. that individual sinners among Jews and Gentiles are being “called-out” and formed into: “the church which is His body”, in which there is neither Jew nor Gentile. “And that this church should be “to the praise of the glory of His grace” throughout eternity (Eph. 2:7), and an object lesson, so to speak, to supramundane rulers and authorities in the heavenlies (Eph. 3:10), of the glorious purpose (hitherto hidden in God) of Him in “heading up” in one all things in a Dispensation of the fulness of times (Eph. 1:10), having Christ Personal as its glorified Head, and Christ Mystical, the glorified members together with Him of His body.” (EWB)

      So all that we need to know, is itself in both the Bible and in the Spirit of God, lead fully by the Apostle Paul, who is the great Apostle to us, the Gentiles..but to the Jew first! (Rom.1:16) We are all going to be very surprised, that just who are the Elect Body of Christ (the Church)! > Simply those who believe in the Lordship and Saving Grace of God in Christ! (Jew, Gentile, men & women of all races and people!)

      This is the Gospel that I teach and preach, and which I have learned from the Bible and Holy Scripture, and too the historical Church of God, which is in itself the process of that Salvation History and Covenant/covenants of God! 🙂

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  11. Fr. Robert,

    I agree that good and faithful people can be found throughout the history of Christianity, including so many who sacrificed their lives rather than deny the Christ. I have great admiration for the Reformers, and especially for heroes like William Tyndale who gave so much to ensure that God’s word could be published to the masses. These people have done much to advance the kingdom and prepare the way for Christ’s return. Other events (in my mind) contributing to the opening of this great “dispensation of the fullness of times” include political changes creating greater personal and religious freedoms such as the American Revolution, and the tremendous technological advances that make such discussions as ours possible. The Bible now fits on a chip the size of my fingernail and can be searched in milliseconds, and I can compare a dozen translations of a verse side-by-side on the internet. This really facilitates the “evangelical revival” you speak of, making Christ available in the furthest reaches of countries his name was hardly heard in before. The internet is becoming a powerful missionary tool, and will continue to become more so. God is truly calling his elect from among all nations, Jew and gentile, in this “restitution of all things”, and all Christians who live in Christ are a part of it!

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    • Michael,

      Yes, simply “Christ Jesus”, Paul’s statement.. the Glorified Man, Risen and Ascended who is also God enfleshed above.. is our life! “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1;21) What an amazing statement that a human man: spirit-soul, body could make in this life! That he really lives above, in the Mystical Christ, who is Jesus (Col. 3:1-4); thus the believers life is union with Christ, now and hereafter! “Glory” And now we are in the world, but from and to the “world-age”, we do not live or belong! Come for your Bride Lord Jesus! 🙂

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